When I passed out of school, I felt exactly like you did: Exhausted, stupid and traumatized. When I sifted through all that I had learnt, I knew a handful of things. I knew calculus, the parts of a neuron and the different kinds of rocks. Rocks. 12 years of school, 7 hours a day, 6 days a week, countless assignments, sundry projects and by the time I was 17 all I could remember was that red soil was red because of iron oxide.
Red soil wasn’t the only thing that had iron in it. I’m pretty sure my brain had rusted during all those mind-numbing, terrifying, soul-crushing hours spent in front of a blackboard, loaded three-to-one on metal desks, scribbling equations in single-lined notebooks covered in brown paper, sniffing each other’s sweat and farts, stammering replies to complex questions, desperately trying to impress underpaid and overworked teachers.
After graduation, we’re expected to be all grown up. Go for interviews. Get a job. Derive an income. Pay your taxes. Drive a car. Move into an apartment. Make rent somehow. Date. Meet complete strangers. Try to make an impression on said strangers. Run from said strangers and hide in the bathroom, holding a cigarette feebly while having a panic attack.
I didn’t feel like an adult at the end of it. I felt like a child pretending to be a grown-up, like when we were kids and put on our parents’ clothes, looking ridiculous in overlarge trousers and tees, stomping around in gigantic boots, unable to see anything owing to the umbrella-sized hats on our heads. I felt like a phony: trying to fool everyone into believing I was responsible and mature, and failing miserably.
The truth is that school teaches us a lot: It teaches us how to add and subtract, how to find countries on a map, how to chart progress on graphs and perform lab experiments. But it refuses to, absolutely refuses to, prepare us for life.
Which is why the word adult doesn’t describe us at all. I’m more comfortable with semi-adult. Or half-child. Or just Adult-but-stoned.
Don’t get me wrong. When you start off at school, everyone puffs up like songbirds to sing like Julie Andrews and teach us Do Re Me Fa on the hilltop. Obviously education is well-intended in the beginning. But somewhere around 13, when puberty hits, the school goes like “Meh. You’re fine. You’ll muddle through”
And so we’re taught many, many things, none of which come to our aid in the end. So what are the 5 basics that should’ve been taught at school to make adulting somewhat less of a farce?
- Sex Education: S.E.X. The big one. Sex organs and how they work. What goes where. Pregnancy. STDs. Condoms (You know that thing that looks like a punctured balloon? Yep. Turns out it’s VERY important). Babies. Why real sex is nothing like porn. Getting your period. Nightfall.
- Good communication: It would have been wonderful, absolutely brilliant, if someone had taught us how to talk. How to have meaningful conversations. How to listen and how to respond. How to not talk total shit. How to argue respectfully and respect each other’s opinions. How to raise valid points and come to constructive conclusions.
- Gender Equality: It would’ve been nice if they’d raised us as equals. If they didn’t assume girls are ticking ovarian timebombs who’ll start popping babies after graduation. If they could make us appreciate sexual rights and consent. If they taught men to understand a woman, play ‘who really gets her’ rather than to chase her in a game of ‘Who gets in her‘.
- Emotional Resilience: Instead of trying to raise our IQs, they could’ve devoted some time to EQs. The EQ is a person’s ability to deal with emotional trauma: Death in the family. Disability. Addiction. Mental Illness. Social Anxiety. Bullying. Accidents. Chronic medical conditions. If they had taught us simple self-awareness and coping mechanisms, to just have faith in ourselves, we might not be the bunch of alcoholics, sex-addicts and pseudos that we are today.
- Moral Values: Why does nobody ever teach us how not to become homophobes? Or sexists? Or racists? Or bigots? Or idiots? Or Donald Trump? Where is the handbook on being a good human? Where are the lessons to humanize yourself? Who teaches us empathy, compassion and the importance of helping those in need? All you learn at school is how to become a functional robot and a dysfunctional human being.
There are so many things schools can tell us about. Disaster Management. Basic cooking skills. Reading for pleasure. Saving money. Paying taxes. Good governance. Social manners. Procedure for filing criminal/civil complaints. Healthy diet and exercise.
But no. It’d rather we hand in our algebra homework, brush up our history on the freedom movement and try to speak in Shakespeare.
Until this absolute metamorphosis takes place in the education system, trying to adult will sadly go like this: